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Golijov: Yiddishbbuk
St. Lawrence String Quartet, Todd Palmer, Ying Quartet
Golijov: Yiddishbbuk
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (13) - Disc #1

This is an amazing recording. It will leave you drained of emotion and speechless with admiration. Osvaldo Golijov was born in Argentina in 1960. His Eastern Jewish family played and listened to music from classical to kle...  more »


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All Artists: St. Lawrence String Quartet, Todd Palmer, Ying Quartet
Title: Golijov: Yiddishbbuk
Members Wishing: 4
Total Copies: 0
Label: EMI Classics
Release Date: 1/8/2007
Genre: Classical
Styles: Chamber Music, Historical Periods, Classical (c.1770-1830)
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 724355735621

This is an amazing recording. It will leave you drained of emotion and speechless with admiration. Osvaldo Golijov was born in Argentina in 1960. His Eastern Jewish family played and listened to music from classical to klezmer and tango. He lived briefly in Jerusalem, absorbing the musical traditions there, and came to America in 1986. His works encompass all the styles he has been exposed to, but except for "Last Round," a "sublimated tango" part raucous, part mournful (and written in homage to Piazzolla), this program represents Golijov's Jewish roots. "Lullaby and Doina" incorporates Jewish and Gypsy themes, part slow and sad, part wild and motoric, with a radiant violin solo soaring above the woodwinds. "Yiddishbbuk," written for the St. Lawrence Quartet on Tanglewood's Fromm Commission, is inspired by a line from an apocryphal psalm: "No one sings as purely as those who are in the deepest hell...." Its first movement commemorates three children who perished in the Nazi concentration camp Terezin. Golijov evokes their anguish in music that is by turns wild, raucous, slashing, mysterious, eerie, and always heart-rending. Tremolos flutter up above aching dissonances, alternating with organlike, sustained chords; slides and crashes sound like strangled death cries. Isaac the Blind was a famous kabbalist rabbi and mystic. His "Dreams and Prayers," scored for string quartet and clarinet, are depicted in music that is calm, mysterious, meditative, and devout, but intermittently breaks into traditional dance tunes, and builds up to several tremendous climaxes. The clarinet speaks, sings, sobs, screams, and prays in true klezmer style. The playing is fabulous, the total effect mesmerizing, but the real miracle is that this young Canadian quartet and American clarinetist can identify so completely with a culture surely worlds away from their own. --Edith Eisler

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CD Reviews

A Jewish Journey of Courage
Giordano Bruno | 06/19/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Golijov's music speaks to his Jewish roots as a man raised in a Latin American Country. As a result, we hear a range of beautiful sounds and emotions from sadness to joy, darkness to light. What comes across most clearly is his committment to the Jewish soul as heard in his Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind where the clarinet solo is like a call to and of the Jewish spirit. The Lullaby and Donia too are great testiments to this composer's roots. Yiddishbbuk is the most powerful piece on the CD, written as a tribute to the children interned by the Nazis at Terezin. In the Last Rounds, Golijov's Latin (Argentinan) heritage shines in a joyful, playful and exciting way. This deeply felt CD is a great addition to any musical collection."
It's All About Sound, Isn't It?
Giordano Bruno | Wherever I am, I am. | 11/19/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"It's extraordinarily hard to comprehend what other people "hear" when they listen to music, or to guess what they expect to hear when they listen to new music. The reviews of this CD are dramatically polarized and confrontational. Okay, I should have expected as much, since Golijov, like many contemporary composers, takes a confrontational stance toward his audience. Golijov DOES make his Jewish musical identity/heritage as assertive as he can, even though most goyim around the world have no listening experience of klezmer clarinet to reference. Golijov, like Schnittke, makes the modern composer's interface with musical memories - the presence of the past - a matter of shared confrontation; "in an era of access by recording to all the history of music," he seems to say, "we can't help hearing fragments of everything old in everything new." So we listeners have to share that confrontation with him. And of course there's the huge confrontation of European music, in all its elaborate imperial self-assurance, with the music of "others".
With so many options of confrontation, perhaps the smallest ensemble offers the best vehicle for the composer to make the biggest statement about "sound". For these relatively small compositions, Golijov uses only the expanded string quartet. Of course, for a contemporary to write a string quartet is already a confrontation with 250 years of great music. Then to write a clarinet into the quartet format is inherently to take on the memories we sophisticated Euro-musicians have of Mozart and Brahms. Well, so be it: music exists in the memory, both short-term and long. The instant of sound is made significant by the memory of the phrase. To make an analogy: you can't read one word at a time; you need to remember enough words long enough to constitute a thought. Golijov formulates thoughts in his music; he composes in phrases, and that's what I like.

Attention to simple sonority is also relevant in listening to Golijov. The use he makes of the double bass in Last Round is "profound" in two senses. The clarinet parts in Lullaby and in Dreams and Prayers would be immense fun to play! (Even if you don't play a clarinet, or any instrument, don't you get much of your pleasure in music from "playing along"? I certainly do.) By the sometimes abstruse canons of modern music, the works of Golijov are accessible, offering pleasures on the first listening. But there are also depths which I have heard only on later listenings.

Other reviewers have suggested this CD as a "starting place" for hearing Golijov. I'd go a bit farther. I'd say this CD represents Golijov at his best and most musically focused. More than a starting place, it's an end in itself."
Consistent, vibrant, true...
Francisco Herrera | Chicago, IL USA | 04/15/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This CD is a must for anyone who loves Golijov's music. Even more so a must for someone that wants to start wading into the surprisingly warm waters of contemporary music. Golijov is about as good as it gets and he deserves every iota and ink drop of praise ascribed to him.

As do the performers. The Ying and St. Lawrence Quartets have been playing and laughing and collaborating together for over a decade now and you hear the warmth of their relationship (MOST present on stage) in this work.

Oh, and Todd Palmer pretty much ROCKS, too. When I saw him and the St. Lawrence do this live a little over a year ago he sang and grunted his way through the piece's motley clarinet scoring with elegance, pathos, and humor. And the same vibe is as much in the recording as it was that night."